Corns & Callus

What is it?

Calluses are patches of thick skin that form over areas of repetitive friction. It is a natural protective reaction of the skin to prevent blistering and trauma. They are commonly seen on the palms of the hands and around the fingers in people that do a lot of manual work such as gardeners, carpenters and plumbers. When calluses form on the feet, it is due to differences in the structure of the foot, poor fitting footwear or changes to the way someone walks

Corns are also hard patches of skin that usually form over areas of high focal pressure. The difference between calluses and corns is that a corn is a small plug of hard skin whereas a callus is a flat, sometimes very large patch. Often, corns form within a patch of callus. They do not contain “roots”; in fact they are more like a small stone imbedded in the skin.

Common Symptoms

  • Pain on walking or in certain shoes.

  • The pain is often described as burning, stinging or like walking on stones or a sharp “pricking” sensation where there is a corn.

  • It can often throb and make footwear extremely uncomfortable, especially if it has been present for a long period of time.

What Causes It?

  • Poor fitting footwear.

  • Different foot structure and/or biomechanics.

  • Some medical conditions affect the skin such as thyroid problems, diabetes and psoriasis.

  • Pregnancy and/or weight gain.

  • Some medications affect the skin strength and thickness, which then causes increased callus production.

  • Poor circulation.




  • Always wear correctly fitted footwear.

  • Keep feet moisturised especially if you tend to wear open shoes or go barefoot. For thick calluses you can use an emollient containing urea, which will help to keep the skin moist and may help to reduce the build-up as well.

  • Do not use medicated corn plasters or pads. The plasters contain acid and if placed over an area of thinner skin will burn the tissue, possibly causing an ulcer. You may feel it helps with the pain of a callus or corn initially; however, it is only softening the upper layers of the callus, which once the plaster is removed, will eventually harden and become painful again. Diabetics and the elderly are especially at risk as their skin is very thin


  • A sharp scalpel is used to debride the hard skin and excise the corns. This method is painless.

  • Can tell you the cause of the callus or corn and give advice on how best to treat and prevent it from returning.

  • Where the callus or corns are caused by changes to the biomechanics of the foot and lower limb, orthoses may help to reduce the abnormal forces and therefore reduce the callus.

DO NOT seek help from a beautician or pedicurist. They aren’t trained to use scalpels, which are the safest, most efficient way to remove callus and corns. Also, they are not trained to recognise and treat calluses caused by medical conditions such as diabetes. If not treated properly, some skin conditions may become very serious and require antibiotics or hospitalisation.